The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) proudly announces the eleven recipients of this year’s UMD John L. N. Bitove, C.M. Macedonian Heritage Scholarship Awards (UMD Bitove Scholarship): Emilija Dimitrievski, Levena Galopoulos, Sara Gichevska, Filip Joshevski, Ivana Minoska, Vanessa Owen, Vasil Petrovski, Andrej Simeski Vasil Sterjovski, Sara Simonovska, and Alexander Solomos. A second round of recipients will be announced in the coming months.
With the second round of recipients, and since the UMD Bitove Scholarship’s inception in 2010, UMD will have provided over $90,000 to a combined 54 students pursuing degrees in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the United States.
“My late father was a huge proponent of investing in the Macedonian community and the educational advancement of our future generations; my family and I could not be more proud to partner with UMD in carrying on my father’s legacy and vision encouraging many more Macedonian students to take greater pride in our Macedonian heritage,” said Vonna Bitove, daughter of the late John L. N. Bitove, C.M,” said Ms. Vonna Bitove, daughter of Mr. John L. N. Bitove, C.M.
We have provided below a selection of recipient quotes on what this scholarship means to them. In order for students to obtain scholarships, they submit essays about their Macedonian heritage – these essays will be published in UMD Voice online magazine in the coming weeks for all to read.
Biographies of Recipients:
Emilija Dimitrievski is about to finish her studies at the University of Toronto obtaining a BA in Criminology, Political Science and Sociology. With her education, she hopes to enter the world of diplomacy and advocate for Macedonian rights. Alongside her studies, Emilija has been involved in Generation M since it’s Canadian launch in January 2015. She has been a part of the Toronto Macedonian community through various outlets over the last decade, specifically having participated in folklore group Ensemble Makedonka, youth group MYNET, the Ladies Auxiliary, and choir. Emilija also completed the Birthright Macedonia program in 2018, where she interned at the office of the President of the Republic of Macedonia under President Ivanov.
Emilija discussed the importance of the scholarship: “The Bitove scholarship allows for those who are active in the Macedonian community to be recognized for their contributions to the community. I am truly honoured to receive this scholarship and hope this program continues to motivate Macedonian youth to pursue their studies and make Macedonia proud.”
Levena Galopoulos (Galavoda) was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and raised in a Macedonian household where her culture was very central to her upbringing. Her mother is a first generation Canadian with roots from Ekshisu in Aegean Macedonia, while her father immigrated to Canada at age 37 from Tserevo, Aegean Macedonia. Levena obtained a bachelor’s degree in International Development and Globalization in 2017 from the University of Ottawa. She is currently approaching the second year of her master’s at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden. Levena has since worked with various federal government departments such as Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Department of National Defence Canada. She has actively volunteered with organizations assisting vulnerable communities such as Amnesty International, the Canadian Red Cross, and the Swedish Red Cross. Levena is passionate about interethnic relations and minority representation, specifically, data collection on the often-undisclosed history derived from Aegean Macedonia. Soon she will be embarking to Amman, Jordan for an internship position to conduct research on peacebuilding initiatives working to minimize interethnic divisions amongst youth.
Levena spoke of the honor, saying: “The Bitove Scholarship acknowledges how powerful our Macedonian heritage is, specifically how the transcendence of values from generation to generation has played an important role into our everyday professional lives. With both parents from Aegean Macedonia, I accept this scholarship in recognition of the diaspora community from our region – we exist.”
Sara Gichevska was born on the 3rd of October 1996 in Skopje, Macedonia. Sara decided to pursue her dream and invest in her education six years ago. Leaving her friends and family in Skopje, Sara left to study abroad. In the last two years of her secondary education she studied in the private high school, Branksome Hall, in Toronto. At graduation, Sara earned high honors as well as received the International Baccalaureate Award for higher level economics and Spanish. Presently, Sara is studying as a fourth year student at the specialized Rotman Commerce program at the University of Toronto, where she has received many scholarships and awards. Sara is passionate about finance and investing. Upon graduation she will join Moelis & Company as an Investment Banking Analyst in New York. Sara worked at BlackRock last summer alongside the Investments team. Her future plans involve pursuing an MBA. Sara has been training karate for 13 years. Some of her achievements include multiple gold medals on national championships, bronze medals on world and European championships, and various certificates from international seminars. Sara is proud of her Macedonian heritage and believes that her Macedonian roots have had an immense impact on her view of the world. Additionally, she is proud to have received this award as it shows the strength of the Macedonian community and its people.
Filip Joshevski was born and raised in Bitola, Macedonia. After finishing high school, he took the opportunity to pursue his studies in Germany, a pioneering country in sustainability and renewable energy. He is currently in his 4th year of studies, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in energy technology from the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen – Nuremberg, Germany. In both middle school and high school he took part in several USAID engineering projects, such as the Environmental Energy Transfer Machine, Student Science Club and Student Support Technician Club and IT Infrastructure Assisting Program, where he got his desire for engineering mindset.
Outside of his academics and STEM – related projects, Filip played in the high school Handball team, winning the 2013 silver and 2011 bronze medal at the National High School Championship as well a silver medal with the youth team of HC Pelister (season 2011/2012). As a sportsman, he recognizes the importance of individual contribution by each team member and thus takes on his role in the collective responsibility to reduce emissions of air pollutants in his homeland Macedonia. With the hope to establish a connection between the economic energy leader Germany and his motherland, he aspires to implement methods for renewable electricity resources as one major step towards the country’s prosperity. He would like to express his gratitude to the Bitove Foundation and the United Macedonian Diaspora for this honor and the support provided for all Macedonians throughout the world.
Filip said of the scholarship: “I am very honored and grateful to be one of the recipients of the UMD Bitove scholarship. The worldwide acknowledgment of all Macedonians, including me, is a remarkable gesture that encourages me to achieve my goals in the future and continue to inspire others as well “
Ivana Minoska works at the offices of David Ferguson & Associates where in her capacity as a Legal Intern she conducts legal research and drafts legal memoranda in preparation for litigation in criminal cases. Prior to joining the firm, Ivana has completed several prestigious internships in New York City with reputable international and domestic non-profit organizations and entities, including Justice Rapid Response, where she aided senior management in executing expert deployments to national, regional and international accountability mechanisms for human rights abuses in the MENA region, and the Benjamin B. Ferencz Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic at Cardozo Law, where among other cases, she assisted an International Criminal Court Prosecutor on a case regarding accountability for ISIS crimes against the Yazidis, and worked with international lawyers on a case in front of the European Court of Human Rights regarding violations of the right to asylum. Ivana is a long-time volunteer at Amnesty International USA Local Group 11, where she works on local and international human rights advocacy campaigns. Ivana is also an avid animals’ rights advocate and a passionate supporter of the Humane Society of the United States. Ivana holds an LL.B. from the Faculty of Law “Iustinianus Primus”, Skopje, Macedonia, and an LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, New York, New York. In September 2019, Ivana began transitioning to a new post with the United Nations Secretariat in New York City.
Vanessa Owen currently resides in Windsor, Ontario, where she attends the University of Windsor. Last year, she graduated with a Bachelor of Forensic Sciences (Hon.) with a Specialization in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Vanessa is an active supporter of her university community and the community at large, and she was the recipient of the LEAD Gold Medallion award for 2018. This award is given to an exemplary student that embraces the qualities of leadership, engagement, application and discovery in science. This is an extremely competitive award which is based on school involvement both inside and outside of the academic setting. Currently, Vanessa is in her first year of a Masters program specializing Entomology, her research centers around the effects of dietary amino acids on oviposition behavior and development of blow flies. Her graduate work has provided her with an opportunity to participate as a Teaching Assistant and Graduate Assistant, and her leadership skills have her involved in the Forensic Science Mentorship program.
A staunch supporter of women in STEM, Vanessa has been a member of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO International) since 2016, an organization that supports educational opportunities for female students worldwide. Vanessa is proud of her Macedonian heritage and participated in the Birthright program in 2018. Through the Birthright program, she had an opportunity to intern in the genetics lab of the Zan Mitrev Clinic in Skopje. This experience enriched her love for the culture and history of Macedonia itself and provided her with new prospects as far as working in Macedonia. Vanessa, along with her sister, toured some remarkable cities and saw the beauty of the Macedonian landscape and its people. During her summer stay in Macedonia, she visited the villages that her grandparents came from in the Resen region, this provided her with a deeper sense of belonging to a greater family unit. Being with her extended family and hearing the stories of her ancestors gave her a greater appreciation of who we are as a people and culture.
Vasil Petrovski is a 3rd year student at Kingston University, London, pursuing a degree in Business Management with a Finance concentration. His interest in Finance began during his high school days at NOVA High School in Skopje. It all started with a little push from a phenomenal Economics teacher, who inspired this young individual to strive to understand and solve economic-related issues. This suits the needs of the Balkan region as it needs more young leaders to conquer the economic instability and prompt growth. In his two years at university, Vasil has been recognized among the top 5% of his Module each year and plans on maintaining his reputation. He is very much capable of putting into practice all that he has learned. Thus far, he has had the chance to implement his knowledge in the real world through internships at Frontier Economics, Auriga Asset Management and Stopanska Banka. His future plans are to pursue a job in finance and continue to develop in that sector.
Vasil expressed his gratitude, saying, ““Knowing first-hand how grateful one feels when receiving such generous support in pursuit of their ambitions, I am eager to work tirelessly, grow perpetually, and motivate coming generations of Macedonians.”
Andrej Simeski, born and raised in Skopje, is a senior studying Computer Science at Brown University, where he is a Chey Family named scholar. In his free time, Andrej likes using technology to make his life easier and more entertaining. He also makes all sorts of things – from a dining table to a tiny Caesar bust. When he isn’t in the workshop, you can find him either reading or swimming. Andrej became more involved in the Macedonian community after going abroad for college. He is working on spreading the Macedonian culture and nurturing the Macedonian community in the greater Boston area, serving as a President for the Brown University Macedonian Association. He is also one of Gen M’s Regional Representatives.
Vasil Sterjovski was born on May 17, 1982 in Korca, Albania. He is enrolled in doctoral studies at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, at the Institute of National History with a narrower area of research for Macedonians in Albania. He completed his postgraduate studies at the Institute of National History at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, while Undergraduate Studies at the Faculty of Philosophy at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje. He completed his primary and secondary education in the municipality of Pustec, Albania. He is a well-known activist for the rights of Macedonians in Albania and was president of the Association of Macedonian Students from Neighboring Countries, Skopje, Macedonia. He was the deputy mayor of the municipality of Pustec, director of the public water utility in Korca county, as well as an adviser to the Pustec Municipal Council and an advisor to the Korca County Council as a representative of the Pustec municipality. He is the secretary-general of the only Macedonian party in Albania, the Macedonian Alliance for European Integration (MAEI). He is currently an MP in the Albanian Parliament representing the Macedonian Alliance for European Integration (MAEI) party. Lives and works in Tirana. He speaks Macedonian, Albanian and English.
Sara Simonovska was born in Kumanovo, Macedonia on June 14, 1994. Her father is a professional drum set player and from him she inherited her love of music. She started playing drum set at the age of four and at fifteen began studying classical percussion at “Ilija Nikolovski – Luj” in Skopje, Macedonia under percussion professor Zoran Spasovski. After studying there for two years, Sara received a full scholarship from the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in Traverse City, Michigan. Here she studied under the percussionist John Alfieri and took master classes with Mojca Sedeu, Peter Erskine, Scott Pallegrom, Eric Schweikert, Clocks in Motion, SO Percussion, Ji Hye Jung, Jason Treuting, Michael Spiro etc. She graduated on Presidents List with Honors from Jacksonville University in 2014. Currently Sara is a second year Master student and Teaching Assistant at the University of Akron in Ohio, studying under Dr. Larry Snider and Mr. Matthew Dudack. Sara has performed in many places around United States such as Millennium Auditorium in Michigan, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and many others. She has also been seen as percussion performer all over Europe. Some of Sara’s accomplishments include: Special First Prize on French International Competition Les Cles D’or in Paris, Music Down Beat Winner in USA, and First Special Award at the International Chamber and Solo Music Competition in Sofia, Bulgaria. She has also been awarded First Special Prize in a solo percussion competition, First Chamber Music Award, Second Award in a xylophone competition, and Second Award in a multiple percussion competition in Skopje, Macedonia. Sara intends to graduate with Masters in Music Percussion Performance from the University of Akron in OH,USA.
Sara spoke of her scholarship, saying: “This scholarship means a lot to me while pursuing my graduate degree at University of Akron. It helps me to contribute more into music and my further education and still be the unstoppable Macedonian.”
Alexander Solomos is a graduate of the Ivey Business School at Western University in London, Ontario, where he obtained an Honours Business Administration degree, graduating with distinction. While at Ivey, Alexander was also a Finance and Accounting Teaching Assistant, and conducted research on financial market bubbles. He is also a Fund Fellow of the Ivey Value Fund, providing quarterly analyst updates for his stock in the Fund, and was the recipient of the Stacey Muirhead Capital Management Ltd. Prize in Value Investing. Following Ivey, Alexander will be returning to Western University for a year to complete his Bachelor of Science in Biology combined degree. Alexander has previous internship experience at Scotiabank, most recently as an Investment Banking Summer Analyst, and hopes to pursue a career in Finance. He is also a former junior hockey player and former OUA rugby player at Western University, and enjoys playing and watching sports, fishing, and is an avid investor.